Did a lifeguard take the sign at the YMCA pool that says “No Food or Drinks in this Area” a bit too seriously? Or was he shutting out a breastfeeding mother because this entailed using a breast? It sounds like it was the latter of the two after he told a breastfeeding mother that she couldn’t do that there because it was uncomfortable for other people at the pool, according to WQAD 8 on Sept. 12.
The woman, who wants to be called by her first name only, Nicole, said that she was there with her family participating in the family swim that the YMCA offers. She has breastfeed her seven-and-a-half-month old daughter at the same pool without any problems in the past.
The lifeguard pointed to the restrooms and said he would watch her other children if she would like to finishing feeding her daughter in the bathroom. Nicole was indignant, she doesn’t eat her meals in the bathroom and she wasn’t about to feed her daughter there either.
The state law in Illinois states a mother can breastfeed in any public place. Nicole asked to speak to a YMCA manager and the woman told her she wasn’t sure of the Y’s policy on breastfeeding.
The lifeguard who initially told Nicole she can’t breastfeed at the pool told her this was because it makes people uncomfortable. A meeting among leaders of the Two Rivers YMCA met yesterday and they decided to set aside a room for breastfeeding mothers. They also said “It’s not our intent to violate the law.”
Nicole and other mothers from the YMCA felt this was in violation of their rights. One mother said that society is over sexualizes the female breast, apparently incidents like this is the outcome of such a mindset. As of now, the Two Rivers YMCA is waiting for clarity on the Y’s policy from the national office of the YMCA. Depending on what they say, they may have to put it into policy.